Senator Seeks Support for Tax Initiative in Southern Colorado

By: Kendra Potter
By: Kendra Potter

Higher taxes for better schools; it’s a decision one lawmaker is hoping all Coloradoans will make come November.

State Senator Rollie Heath (D) Boulder, is heading up a ballot initiative designed to put money back into education.

Senator Heath was in Pueblo Friday gaining support and gathering signatures for his “Bright Colorado” ballot initiative that would directly benefit schools.

The initiative would temporarily restore state income and sales taxes to their 1999 levels. The move would raise $500 million each year for five yeas putting an estimated $3 billion back into Colorado education.

“Will hopefully keep schools open, keep teachers on the job, keep librarians in place, allow for all the extra curricular activities, provide computers for kids. We’ve taken out over 500 million dollars the last two years, this would help replace that,” said Senator Heath.

But not everyone plans on putting their name on that list. Some don’t like the idea of raising taxes.

"I feel like this is a bad time to raise taxes; I think they need to take a deeper look at the fat, and the bureaucratic end of our school system,” said Jamey Fine.

State and school officials plus community members in Pueblo rallied Friday to show their support.

“It’s about education and jobs and I think that this is really a jobs and economic initiative. We need to be able to fund our education so that we can actually have an educated workforce,” said Democratic Pueblo State Senator Angela Giron.

Melanie Bravo with the Boys and Girls Club of Pueblo County said she is committed to getting more signatures. She printed off a petition and will travel around the community asking people to sign it.

“I believe that we need to invest in our kids and that starts with education. And we can’t continue to see these deep cuts happen and not expect our kids not to be able to perform, our teachers not to be able to perform at their best,” said Bravo.

Senator Heath says that jobs and education go hand in hand.

“I know that you don’t have good jobs and don’t’ have really good economic development without an educated workforce and without educated kids, said Senator Heath. He adds, “You can’t separate education from jobs, from economic development, and we need help and we need to educate our kids.”

This year $250 million was cut from Colorado Education. Pueblo City Schools lost 7.2 million. D70 even went to a four day school week.

“We’ve had a freeze now like many school districts across the state for a few years now and everybody’s prices are going up and our families need some relief from that as well as our students need books, and quality teachers,” said Stephanie Garcia, School Board President for Pueblo City Schools.

The Senator maintains it’s a reasonable and responsive way to deal with huge cuts in education. He says

the income tax rate would go from 4.63 percent back to 5 percent and that sales tax would go from 2.9 percent back to 3 percent. He says for a family making $55,000 a year it would be approximately an extra $163 per year.

Heath says they are halfway to reaching their goal of 125,000 signatures. As of Thursday, they had 67,000. They only need 86,000 to get Initiative 25 on the ballot in November. If it’s passed in November, it will go into effect January 1, 2012.


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  • by Anonymous on Jul 10, 2011 at 08:42 PM
    John Taylor Gatto
  • by Anonymous on Jul 10, 2011 at 05:30 PM
    there's plenty of money already IN the school system. We should be looking at new efficiences...how 'bout a state-wide education system that eliminates all the little fiefdom's and all the small-time Hitler's around the state ? There's absolutely NO reason for each high school to have a half-dozen Assistant Principals, each making $120K plus a year, or all the "counselors", assistants to this and that. Does anyone know how much EACH district Superintendent "earns". It's usually north of $200,000 A YEAR!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 10, 2011 at 05:25 PM
    I guess it figures that the "representative" is from the People's Republic (of Boulder). Everyone knows those folk are completely out of it...who works for a wage in Boulder, Colorado ? Anyone ?
  • by Neps Location: Colorado on Jul 10, 2011 at 04:16 PM
    How sad that so many posting here care so little for the long-term well-being of their community and society. Yes, it is true that money spent on education does not always directly translate to academic success. However, it is also true that many talented people who could become teachers opt not to do so because they can earn a much higher salary in industry. In fact, analysis of educational test data shows that many of those with the lowest scores are becoming teachers -- ostensibly because they don't have the skills to do much else. Ask yourself if it it really appropriate for a nation this wealthy to risk its long-term survival and competitiveness on substandard education! As for taxes, our tax rates are lower than they've been in 50 years. If you doubt this, look it up and see for yourself. As an educated American, it saddens me to see a once-great country systematically destroyed by those who know little and endlessly recite conservative talking points without actually thinking about what they mean, or the consequences of such policies.
  • by C* on Jul 10, 2011 at 02:18 PM
    This is awful. More taxes when they already have money out the backside! Where does all of the tax money go??! Most people cannot afford higher taxes but what politician gives a you know what about them? Poor money management, pet projects, pure wastefulness, greed! We're being taxed to death left and right. Look at your grocery receipts! Look at the foreclosures!
  • by Lawrence Location: CoSprings on Jul 10, 2011 at 01:37 PM
    If one was to really get close to the issue and analyze the root cause of the education issue, one would be surprised at the outcome. Schools can only push a child so far to get them to learn. Technology and supercharged teachers can only enhance the learning environment to a set degree. If the environment the child comes fron is ulte negative towards the childs ability and the necessity on learning then taxes, technology and super teachers have little affect on the child in the long run.
  • by Colo Location: C/S on Jul 10, 2011 at 10:00 AM
    Thanks Ray for doing the research. Very interesting!
  • by Allen Location: CoSp on Jul 10, 2011 at 08:31 AM
    Seems to me that the majority of politicans know only bigger government spending is the 'fix'. More revenue is their answer. There must be a better way.
  • by Ed Location: cs on Jul 10, 2011 at 08:12 AM
    Too much money already going to NEA; and the Unions who support 'you know who'!! Sorry, but the mantra the past 20 years has been: 'It's for the children', and the retirement/bennies just keep on growing. Maybe teachers' salaries are still low, but that can't be said for the Administrations'. They need to work on that part of it. Enough, already!
  • by Colo Location: C/S on Jul 10, 2011 at 08:11 AM
    Take note of the "D" behind this guys name. I am absolutely against it! Look in today's Sunday Gazette. Page after page of forclosures, and you want people to pay more? Absolutely ludicrous! I've said this before. As a Nation we put more money into our school system than any other country in the world. Why is it failing? When teachers start teaching and quit pushing their liberal agenda's off on our children, I'll say yes, give them more money. As far as teachers wages are concerned, for a 9 month teaching job, I'd say their pay isn't bad!
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